Sunday, February 1, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Dig it! The secrets of soil

By Karen Ross

A walk through any of California’s 700 certified farmers markets is all it takes to make the point: This state’s farms are something special. Our farmers are innovators —as creative as they are productive, to the tune of $42.6 billion worth of agricultural produce and commodities a year. But they have a lot of help right under their feet: the soil.

The California Museum in Sacramento (10th and O streets) features a new exhibit, sponsored by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and designed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, that gives us a unique peek underground. “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil” is a 4,000-square-foot exhibit focused on educating 75,000 kindergartners through eighth-graders each year about the benefits of healthy soils.

We hope to see more and more young minds take an interest in soil, in agriculture and in the environmental sciences. As much as we know about soils and how they help us grow food, we will need a tremendous amount of new research and innovation to meet the nutritional needs of a growing global population.

Sacramento is a perfect place for this “Dig It!” exhibit. We are the “farm-to-fork capital,” and soil is the star of the show when it comes to farming. It’s what lets California farmers grow more than 400 agricultural commodities, from date palms in the high desert to veggies on the central coast, fruit trees in the foothills, wine grapes in Napa, rice up north and darned near everything else in the valleys in between.

In fact, California even has a state soil: San Joaquin soil from the great valley that is recognized as one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. With upper layers of brown loam and a subsoil of clay, this soil is well-suited for the valley’s irrigated crops such as almonds, oranges, grapes, wheat and rice. The great Central Valley boasts more than 500,000 acres of it.

Locals are used to it, but folks who come to California for the first time are awed by the variety, quality and abundance of our agriculture. Even a simple trip through our average supermarket produce section can be a jaw-dropper for someone who isn’t accustomed to our array of nutritious, tasty, healthy choices. Ask Sacramento chefs what makes this the perfect place for their restaurants to thrive, and it’s a sure bet they’ll rave about the long list of seasonal, local ingredients they have to choose from on a year-round basis.

That variety, that abundance are truly built from the ground up. Sandy or silty, loam or clay … our soils are as diverse as the food we grow in and on them. Farmers have always known that healthy soils are essential to produce good crops, but the advancing science of soils is giving us a whole new appreciation of soil diversity and soil health — and that science is giving us new tools to be better stewards of the land.

From irrigation technology that saves water to fertilizer research that protects our natural resources, science allows us to understand not just what we can grow from our soil but also what the soil itself requires to remain healthy and productive.

Soil isn’t just “dirt.” It’s a secret, underground ecosystem teeming with microbial life, nutrients, water. It is as varied and fascinating as California’s above-ground attractions, from its beaches to its mountains, valleys and deserts. It may take a scientist to see the connection, but that’s exactly what we’re hoping to find with the California Museum’s new “Dig It!” exhibit: New scientists who marvel at the magic happening right beneath our feet.

“Dig It!” is open now and will be on display at the California Museum through March 29. For more information, visit the California Museum website at www.californiamuseum.org/dig-it. Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. (closed Mondays).

— Karen Ross is California’s agriculture secretary.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Well-loved library has services for all ages

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    The end of an era for The Enterprise, as pressroom closes

    By Kimberly Yarris | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Jewish fraternity vandalism classified a hate crime

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

     
    Man arrested after body parts found in suitcase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Islamists post beheading video

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    More than a foot of snow possible for Midwest, Northeast

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Kudos to the Thomsons

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A3

     
     
    UCD Med Center patient tested negative for Ebola

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Arboretum ‘I do’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Summer lovin’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    The story of Mark and Maria

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Stories come alive at the library

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Japanese students seek Davis host families

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    And bingo was the game-o

    By Tate Perez | From Page: A9

    Lee will speak Wednesday about city issues

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Training starts Tuesday for Jepson Prairie Preserve tour guides

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Lecture looks at women in Egypt

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

     
    Stepping Stones supports grieving youths

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9Comments are off for this post

    Vote for your favorites in Readers’ Choice poll

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Tuleyome Tales: Searching for the elusive McNab cypress

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Questions and answers about breast cancer set

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Davis Arts Center welcomes students’ work

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    .

    Forum

    Help a veteran feel loved

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A10

     
    Three old ideas going, going, gone

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A10

     
    How much drinking is too much?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Council, follow your own policies

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    Ensure that you’re protected against measles

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    Act would let patients control their own fates

    By Our View | From Page: A12

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

    They’re experienced and honest

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    Toy drive was a big success

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    One-way street solves dilemma

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    Wi-Fi in our schools could result in health impacts

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13

    Life goes on in Rutilio Grande, despite country’s gang violence

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13 | Gallery

     
    .

    Sports

    Depth charge: DHS girls defeat Elk Grove

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Blue Devil boys lose on Herd’s buzzer-beating trey

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD women survive against winless UCSB

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Foursome will represent Davis at national soccer tournament

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD roundup: Aggies make a racket but fall to Sac State, Pacific

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Kings get past Pacers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Sharks blank Blackhawks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    And the survey says: Success for Davis Chamber

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

     
    Putah Creek Winery launches ‘Give Back Tuesday’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    Doby Fleeman: Toward a more perfect Davis

    By Doby Fleeman | From Page: A12

     
    Ullrich Delevati, CPAs, adds senior accountant

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    Novozymes, Cargill continue bio-acrylic acid partnership as BASF exits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13

     
    Seminar will cover business challenges

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A13

    Japanese fondue dips into Davis scene

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A13 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, February 1, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8